Herriman girls basketball ready to make a runFeb 03, 2021 10:14AM ● By Justin Adams
Senior guard Leilani Falatea drives down the lane while looking for a pass. (Justin Adams/City Journals)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
Herriman High’s girls basketball team is off to a hot start this year, and head coach Kent Smith thinks the team is primed to make a run in the state playoffs.
“We think we are very talented, and think we can make a deep run in the state playoffs. When you get into the deep part of the playoffs, all the teams are good so we’re just hoping to compete with the best teams in the state,” said Smith, now in his third year at the helm of the program.
At the time of the Herriman Journal’s press deadline, the team had a 11-1 record, the sole blemish being a 7-point loss at the hands of Lehi High School. Aside from that, the Mustangs have been on a tear, winning their games by an average margin of over 20 points.
After averaging 54 points per game last year, the team is now scoring over 65 points per game. And the improved offense hasn’t come at the expense of their defense. Both last year and through their first 11 games this year, they are allowing just 41 points per game.
The team plays an aggressive style of defense, often running a full-court press against opponents that often results in turnovers. Once in transition, the team has multiple players capable of both handling the ball and shooting from distance.
“We’ve got six players who already have 10 made threes this season. We’ve got shooters galore,” Smith said.
Three of those shooters include the team’s captains, Lealani Falatea (Sr), Ainzlee Enger (Sr) and Lexi Jensen (Jr).
Enger is the emotional leader of the team, according to Smith. As a point guard she runs the offense as well as sets up the defense.
Falatea, meanwhile, is the “best offensive player in the state” if you ask Smith. She’s committed to play for BYU next year.
Although just a junior, Jensen is also on track to play at the collegiate level. She’s currently committed to Southern Utah University.
One advantage to having so many shooters is that it stretches the opposing defense, opening up holes and lanes to the basket for starting center Kylee Cheesman.
“She gets a lot of easy layups because people have to go the three-point line,” Smith said.
When everything is clicking for these Mustangs, it almost seems like they can score at will. That was the case against Taylorsville High on Jan. 6 when the team set a new school record for points in a game with 89.
If they can keep that up, they’ll be a force in region play and a tough out in the playoffs. The biggest competition for the Mustangs in Region 3 play will be defending state champion Bingham Miners. However the Mustangs took care of business early in its first game against Bingham, jumping out to a 29-8 halftime lead before extending it to 46-15 at the end of the third quarter eventually winning 61-40. The Mustangs and Miners are scheduled to face off again on Feb. 11 at Bingham.
At the state tournament, Herriman could be on a collision course with Silverwolves of Fremont, who have ended the Mustangs’ season each of the last two years in the state playoffs. This year, they are the only team in 6A to average more points per game than Herriman.